Merit Energy Co., LLC v. HorrAnnotate this Case
Merit Energy Company, LLC hired an independent contractor, Basic Energy Services, Inc. to clean out its oil and gas wells. Basic employee Blake Horr was injured while performing the job. Horr brought suit against Merit, alleging several exceptions to the general rule that the employer of an independent contractor is not liable for physical harm caused to another by an act or omission of the contractor or his workers. After a jury trial, the district court entered judgment against Merit, concluding that Merit was substantially at fault and that its fault had caused Horr more than two million dollars in damages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in instructing the jury to determine if Merit retained control over any part of the work that caused injury to Horr; (2) did not abuse its discretion by refusing to give the jury Merit’s proposed instruction detailing Basic’s duty of care to Horr; and (3) did not err in denying Merit’s motion for judgment as a matter of law.